The New York Knicks inked Brandon Jennings to a 1-year, $5 million deal and all signs point to the 26-year-old being a way-too-early Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Given the opportunity to make things right following a painful draft blunder half a decade ago, at little to no cost, would you do it?
If you’re New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, you’d take the chance and run … fast.
On Sunday, the Knicks made a not-so-blockbuster signing by inking mercurial point guard Brandon Jennings to a 1-year, $5 million ‘prove yourself’ contract.
Jennings is expected to serve as the first guard of the bench and backup to another Knick addition, Derrick Rose. Although the move may not be largely viewed on paper, make no mistake, it is as important to the growth of this franchise as the Rose trade and Joakim Noah signings were. But why?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 4, 2016
Simply put, the addition of Jennings supplies head coach Jeff Hornacek with some much-needed offensive ammunition from the second unit.
Jennings, who is still trying to make his presence stick with one NBA team, is a legitimate scorer and distributor, averaging 15.5 PPG for his career to go along with 5.9 assists. What Jennings lacks in efficiency — he’s a 39.0% shooter from the field — he makes up for with athleticism, vision, and finesse, something last year’s starting and backup point guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant failed to provide.
With Grant — who was recently shipped to Chicago — on the court in the 2015-16 season, New York’s offense averaged 97.3 points per 100 possessions, good enough to place him in the bottom 10th percentile league-wide, per NBA.com. As a whole, the Knicks’ offensive rating lingered near 102 points per 100 possessions.
The fact of the matter is New York essentially fleeced the entire league with this signing of Jennings, who should be fully recovered from a season-ending achilles injury by the start of preseason.
Brandon Jennings at 1 year for just $5 million is incredible value. That's only 5.3% of the cap.
Great high-upside, low-risk signing by Phil
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) July 4, 2016
Comparing Jennings’ value at $5 million for one year to the contract being thrown at other backup point guards this summer is really no contest. D.J. Augustin, a 40% shooting journeyman, received a 4-year, $29 million contract from the Orlando Magic. Ish Smith, he of 5.5. career PPG, signed a 3-year, $18 million deal with the Detroit Pistons.
Lest we forget Matthew Dellavadova, who stunningly earned nearly double that of Jennings after being shown a 4-year, $38 million offer from the Milwaukee Bucks. I’m sure Delly asked for the pen before the Bucks’ brass could finish their sales pitch.
The tenth pick of the 2009 Draft, Jennings, is coming off a two-year stretch that saw his effective field goal percentage — which accounts for a three-pointer’s value over a two-point field goal — hit 47.2%, a career high.
His presence should shore up any lingering memories of the Jordan Hill draft pick back in 2009. Moreover, Jennings’ measly cap-hit provides the Knicks a cheap look at a young talent with the option to re-sign him next summer, or let him walk at no cost.
Jennings has plenty of room to improve and spark New York’s bench. All signs point to him doing so.
Can't wait to play in the Mecca!! Excited to be joining such a historic franchise @NYKNICKS!!!
— Brandon Jennings (@brandonjennings) July 4, 2016